Should I Apply Before Getting My LSAT Score?

With all the talk about rolling admissions, students sometimes feel as though they should submit their application materials as soon as schools begin to accept them. And, since applying to law school early maximizes chances of admission, students who are signed up to take or retake later LSAT administrations (like October, December, and February) often feel compelled to submit their applications before getting their new scores back.
Is there an advantage to doing so? Not necessarily. Here’s why:

Your application will be considered incomplete.

Law schools won’t consider your application complete until they have all required components, including your LSAT score. If you don’t have an LSAT score for them to review, they won’t look at your file. You won’t benefit from submitting your application early unless admissions officers actually look at your file early.

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You won’t know how competitive your score will be.

Since the LSAT is such a key part of your application, you can use your score to predict which schools are within your reach. If you don’t have your score back, you won’t know whether you have a realistic shot at admissions.

You won’t know whether you’ll need an addendum.

If you end up vastly underperforming on the LSAT, you may want to consider writing an addendum to explain the issue to admissions officers. However, if you submit your law school applications before you get your score back, you might not have the opportunity to tell your story.

You might need to retake the test.

Let’s say you get your score back and realize that it’s not where it needs to be. In this case, you’ll probably contemplate retaking the LSAT. Schools will consider your application “complete for review” as soon as they receive your LSAT score, so you’ll need to explain that your file should still be kept to the side until you’ve retaken the test.
A retake might even delay you to the next application cycle, and in that case, it really won’t have helped to submit your applications early in the current cycle!
Note that even though applying to law school before you have your LSAT score isn’t necessarily advantageous, you should still prepare your application materials while your score is pending and submit them as soon as your score is available.

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  • Catherine

    Catherine supports Magoosh’s future grad school students by unlocking tricks of the test prep and application trade. She specializes in the LSAT, but also brings her experience in test prep and higher ed admissions to Magoosh students. Catherine spends her free time checking out local farmer’s markets, reading food and lifestyle blogs, and watching Bravo. She is forever in search of the best Mexican and Italian food in any given city.